Bangladesh-Bhutan to sign SOP for trade promotion

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In an attempt to strengthen bilateral trade and daily commercial movement of vehicles, Bangladesh is going to sign a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) with Bhutan. Sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that the opinion of multiple ministries and their divisions was taken into consideration before finalizing on the SOP.
As reported by The Independent, a senior official said that the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a draft SOP to its Bangladeshi counterpart for approval. He said, “After receiving the draft SOP, the ministry of foreign affairs sent it to different ministries and divisions for seeking their opinion.”
The official added, “The draft SOP would be signed as per the memorandum of understanding on use of inland waterways for transportation of bilateral trade and transit cargoes between Bangladesh and Bhutan that was signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Thimphu last year.”
The transportation routes mentioned in the draft SOP include three distinctive ones: Mongla-Kawkhali-Barishal-Chandpur-Mawa, Aricha-Sirajganj-Chilmari-Daikhawa, and Chattogram-Chandpur-Mawa-Aricha-Sirajganj-Chilmari-Saikhawa. The document also includes a possible use of water, rail and road transport, subject to convenience. In order to divide the route load, sea ports like Narayanganj Port etc., will also be used.
According to the SOP, Bangladesh will decide on the fees and charges associated with the use of river port facilities and coastal ports aligned with domestic and international laws. This comes after the draft SOP’s primary objective of enhancing cross country commerce and trade, ensuring efficiency, credibility, accuracy, and transparency.
Samdrup Jongkhar, Gelegphug, Sarpang, Phuentshoking and Samtse in Bhutan and Monglahat, Noonkhawa, Daikhwa, Nakugaon, Haluaghat, Banglabandha, Burimari, Tamabil, Narayanganj, Gobrakurakoraitoli, Mongla seaport and Chattoagram seaport in Bangladesh will be the respective entry and exit points for cargo vessel’s crew members, as mentioned in the draft SOP.
The draft further emphasized that all the crew members on cargo vessels need to carry certain documents for hassle free entry in the contracting countries. This includes an authority reviewed permit with the individual’s photograph, passport/visa or employment certificate, and identity cards issued by concerned authorities of Bangladesh and Bhutan.